The thing about improv is that it isn’t about being funny, it’s about being a creative contributor to a larger whole. Web design is very similar, I like to think of it as a team sport. Every role has a very specific contribution to something much bigger than the people who built it. Live performance has a lot in common with an online experience.

I am currently taking an improv class and here are a few of the things I have learned from it:

  • Don’t try to be anything; good, funny, or energetic. Just be.
    The harder you try to be any one thing, the more you miss the opportunity that presents itself at the time. In design, react to your client’s needs, your team’s capabilities, and your user’s goals. Preconceived ideas can limit your possibilities.
  • Make your partner look good
    Set the people up around you to make awesome. Whether you are in a scene or on a design team every role is equally important and the better everyone else is doing, the higher they can elevate you to succeed.
  • Say “Yes, and…”
    The word “no” can ruin project and scene mojo pretty fast. In both design and improv the sky is the limit, you can keep things positive while still setting realistic expectations. With the ever-changing nature of the industry, flexibility is invaluable.
  • Know everyone’s name
    I am horrible with names. The. Worst. (Though I am pretty good at remembering Twitter handles. ;-) ) Learning everyone’s names in my improv class has been a serious challenge for me, but the benefits have been off the chart. No matter who the next person I get thrown into a scene with is, I know their name. Knowing your team will help create a bond and respect for working quickly under pressure.

Taking an improv class has had an impact on my perspective as a designer and my role in the teams that I work with. If you have the chance to take a class I highly recommend it.